On the Science of Changing Sex

Why Transgender Folk Hate Scientists

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on September 18, 2018

27867072_1811649452220144_4426664495691531655_nBlanchard, Bailey, & Lawrence… just listing them evokes waves of antipathy in the transgender communities, especially among late transitioning transwomen.  Ask many of them and you will be told that these three are hateful transphobes… in spite of copious evidence to the contrary.  But why?

A recent paper (Hannikainen 2018) explores the issue of lay people conflating the results of science research with the scientist’s ideology.  The study showed that there is a tendency to ascribe motivation “to prove” an hypotheses rather than simply to test one.  Further, this tendency, this effect, was more pronounced if the results, the data, were disagreeable to the individual evaluating the scientist by his results.

As Voldesolo wrote,

“This is a dim and dangerous view of science, and one that no doubt contributes to the increasing politicization of the field. If results discordant with our preferred worldviews can be cast as the workings of an ideologue in a lab coat, then reactions to research will increasingly polarize. The possibility for empirical truths to accurately inform our views erodes, and a shared understanding of the means by which we discover truth is undermined. If we turn to the results of studies to determine our level of credence, as opposed to the methods by which those results were achieved, then science becomes a breeding ground for our biases as opposed to their antidote.”

Thus, many transwomen hate Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence not because of who they are or how they feel about transfolk (which is actually fairly positive and supportive) but on the unpleasant truths that they discovered and wrote about.

Let me state it plain and clear:  The truth is the truth no matter who researches or writes about it.  Further, seeking to demonize scientists who discover a truth that is unpleasant is both despicable and self-defeating because the truth will out.  Shooting the messenger will not change the truth.

Further Reading:

Essay on transactivists reactions to Anne Lawrence conducting research

Further External Reading:

The Danger of Judging Scientists By What They Discover

Reference:

Hannikainen, Ivar. 2018. “Ideology Between the Lines: Lay Inferences About Scientists’ Values and Motives.” PsyArXiv. July 1. doi:10.31234/osf.io/gyk26.

Advertisements

Comments Off on Why Transgender Folk Hate Scientists

Folklore Gender Tests

Posted in Autobiographical, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on September 17, 2018

Kay BrownGender “tests” found in fiction and folklore… Or… Nailed It !!

When I was in middle school, one of my classmates, a friendly acquaintance and I were standing in an interminably long slow line for some reason I’ve long ago forgotten.  Bored and reaching for something to amuse herself she challenged me to a “gender test” to see if I was a “boy or a girl”.  It consisted of three items.

The first item was to light a match.  From a book of matches I pulled one out, turned it so that the wider edge aligned with the striker strip so that when I pushed it along away from me it wouldn’t bend in my fingers.  “Oops!” my friend says… I “failed”.  According to this test, women light their matches in this fashion while men pull the flat of the match head along the striker toward their body.  The theory is that women are more careful to keep the flame away from their fingers and body than men.

The second was to ask the testee to look at her/his shoe soles, the bottoms of their feet, while standing.  I no longer remember if I “passed” or “failed” this item of the test.  But I remember that men are supposed to turn their legs and ankle in front, looking straight down.  Women are supposed to bend their knee so that their foot rises up behind them and look over their shoulder.  It may be because of the difference in dress standards for men and women (boys and girls) in that age?  Men are wearing trousers while women are wearing skirts.  It may look unseemly for women wearing knee-length skirts to bend forward, but lifting their leg backward with such skirts is not?

Fashion does impose limits on movement or convenience.  In Huckleberry Finn, our hero runs away and hides by impersonating a girl.  An old woman tests and catches him out by tossing a ball of yarn while his hands are full holding a skein.  He instinctively pulls his knees together to form a larger catching surface.  Gotcha!  A girl, used to long full skirts fashionable in the mid-19th Century would have spread her legs instead to let the skirt catch the ball.  But, consider asking a woman in that era to look at the bottom of her feet encumbered by such a skirt.  She isn’t as likely to bend her leg up behind her, only to catch on her long skirt.  More likely, she would have lifted her skirt slightly and bent her leg, hidden behind the skirt (and much like a curtsy), and turned the ankle to look straight down.

The third and final item was to “look at your nails”.  I naturally held my hands out in front of me, my fingers straight.  “Oops!” my friend says, “you failed the test!  You do things like a girl.  You need to be more careful.”  She looked at me as though to tell me more but I cut her off, changing the subject.

When men look at their nails, they near universally bend their fingers toward their palms.  Women are far more likely to hold their fingers straight, bending their wrists slightly backwards.  Although this may be reinforced by the fashion of long nails, in fact, this “hyperflexion” as its called is very common in girls and feminine boys from an early age, even when not looking at their nails.

Later, in high school, as I was in the early process of coming out and socially transitioning, I sat having a friendly chat with one of my female friends who suddenly grabbed by hands exclaiming that she would teach me how to groom my nails.  She explained in a happy rush that boys didn’t groom their cuticles or trim their nails properly, etc.  “You need to learn how to gently push back your cuticles like this…” then stopped dead as she actually saw, really looked, at my nails for the first time… and saw that my cuticles were perfectly groomed.  “I groom them in the bath, push them back after they soften in the water.”  Up to that moment, I honestly had never given it much thought.  Of course I kept my nails clean, neat, and very slightly longer than most boys but not to the point where it would set my mother off on one of her ugly transphobic harangues.  I had been doing so for years.  My nails looked much like my friend’s!  My friend had made the erroneous assumption that I didn’t have a clue about feminine grooming skills.

Within weeks of that conversation, the narrative was flipped.  I was doing her make-up, as well as several others of my friends, anytime they had “big dates”.  There is a very telling inside joke told in the trans community about transwomen.  “How can you tell the difference between an early transitioner (HSTS) and a late transitioner (AGP)?”…   “An early transitioner is happy to do her female friend’s make up for them as she does it better… while a late transitioner needs her wife do her make-up for her.”

Speaking of nails and autogynephiles.  On a social media forum, I was corresponding with several women who were discussing transgender issues.  Some were welcoming my explanations of autogynephilic behavior and motivations and the obvious differences between HSTS and AGP transwomen while one clearly transphobic woman hatefully rejected the two type taxonomy declaring we were all “deluded perverts”… and deliberately tried to push me off the forum insultingly telling me to “Go do your nails!”.  Sigh…

I flashed back to the memory of my friend from high school… and several others.

It reminded me of an anecdote in Amy Bloom’s essay “Conservative Men In Conservative Dresses” in which a woman related how she was expected to clean up the dishes after dinner while her husband applied polish to his nails to allow him to express his “inner femininity”.  That image says volumes.

That in turn lead to another memory…

I’m on a blind date with a man who knew he would be meeting a post-op transwoman and was open to the experience.  I was told that he was a trust-fund baby, etc., so I had dressed nice to meet him at a trendy cafe.  One look told me that I had been lied to.  This man was clearly NOCD (“not our class, Dear”) as the saying goes.  He was slovenly dressed.  He was poorly educated and boorish.  His family may have left him some money but he clearly was an unemployed bum, an unemployable LOSER.  I tried to find a polite way of ducking out early but he seemed to be unable to take a hint.  Further, he was absolutely fascinated by me and kept asking questions.  I wanted to avoid making a scene so was being as polite and hushed voiced as I could.  I was trying to avoid making eye contact as a way of discouraging him so focused on his hands resting on the table as he leaned toward me.  There was something odd about his hands.  Not only were they not really clean, his nails were a tad bit too long, They were rough surfaced, the ridges clearly visible, the cuticles ragged, poorly groomed… but wait… was that clear nail polish on them?!  Oh My God!  This man was a secret cross-dresser, an autogynephile!  As this realization was sinking in…  suddenly something I had said in answering his questions about myself set him off.  He became quite excited, his voice raised a bit as he asked several more questions, which concerned me lest others overhear.  Then in answering a question about my childhood he burst out very loudly, “You’re a TRUE TRANSSEXUAL!”.  People at other tables clearly heard and turned to look at me.  I was mortified and no longer felt the need to be polite so looked him in the eye and told him to lower his voice and that I was leaving.  He tried to apologize but I ducked out.

Whew!  Good riddance… only it wasn’t.  He found out where I lived, what my number was… and stalked me for months, sending me gifts, notes, calling me.  My roommates had to shield me.  I finally told him that if he didn’t stop, I would turn to the law… and told him that he needed to get therapy to deal with his obsession.  I also made it very clear that I would never date a cross-dresser which finally got through to him that I would never be his girlfriend.

External Further Reading:

Amy Bloom, “Conservative Men In Conservative Dresses”

Comments Off on Folklore Gender Tests